Sky Sports News presenter and one third of The Offside Rule Hayley McQueen writes about what deadline day is like behind the scenes.
Transfer deadline day has snow-balled in the last few years. As more people watch it and the amount of deals that are done and the deals that are completed on deadline day is now something around one in five. It’s a culmination of a whole month’s worth of work and reporting. Sky Sports are very good at it, there’s a beginning, middle and an end. Whilst we don’t think we’ve created a monster, we definitely have created something special. Obviously you can go elsewhere & follow the day online via the papers own websites but our coverage & blog takes a lot of beating. When you see our hashtag trending on Twitter, it’s nice to know most people are flocking to Sky Sports.
For the presenter it’s probably the easiest job on the team! We turn up and tell people what’s happening. We’ve got brilliant producers who are at their busiest, reporters and people working throughout the gallery 24/7. The graphics team are probably the busiest of anyone, the design changes with the yellow and gold theme throughout the day make it what it is. We have more reporters, more of everyone on every team during deadline day. Everyone knows what they’re doing; there are layers of planning that goes into it. We don’t just turn up and go with it. It’s a culmination of research and making sure we’re on top of every story as early as possible.
Our reporters are constantly in contact with different people, it’s making sure people know what’s going on. Dharmesh Sheth might be working with one club whilst Bryan Swanson might be working on another story and so on. I’m not saying they have their own patch or their own team but they have their own contacts and people they can rely on for good information. When you see Jim White on his phone he actually is on his phone. He’ll be speaking to a player or a manager or an agent and our team will be on the phone to all sorts of people around the country. It’s all about getting the information and verifying it.
You might get a little line in your ear from the producer, that’s all we get on air. We can’t constantly be on our phones. Something like, ‘Chelsea, deal done, Cuadrado, £25m.’ That’s all you get, you need to know their position, their story and you have to know the details of what is going on. We just get the information and then it’s up to us to add meat to it. How is he going to fit in, quotes about him from his old manager or his new manager, things like that. By being in and around the office every day through the month you build this knowledge up. I have a little notepad I look back through and find notes I’ve made during the month that I can refer back to. It really comes in handy when it’s a player you don’t know much about, like Krystian Bielik joining Arsenal.
You’ll never get anything in your ear unless it’s certain the deal is done. The news desk will make a call or get a call; we never go with information gathered just from the agents or from social media. We’ll check with the club or the parent club, as soon as something is verified and we’re satisfied we’ll run with it. Until I or Jim or Natalie or someone gets that information in our ear, we won’t and can’t run with it. Sometimes the first I hear of it is when I get told whilst on air, a deal that’s come out of nowhere, then during adverts you research as much as you can into the player’s background and find out everything you can about them. Sometimes you might not even know what position a player plays in if it’s come from left field.
With Twitter, there’s a certain element of having to ignore things on there. You get to know the different journalists & other broadcasters & thie souces or areas, for example If someone like Mark Ogden tweets something to do with Manchester United, more than likely his information will be correct as he is the Telegraps northern correspondant & is on the pulse with United. If it’s Joe Bloggs tweeting about a medical you usually know it’s going to lead to nothing, particularly if it’s something we haven’t heard about yet, then it’s about following it up and speaking to our contacts to clear things up.
In terms of this deadline day, who knows? I worked on the evening back in January 2011 with Jim when Torres left Liverpool and then Carroll left Newcastle, nobody saw anything like that happening. Tevez and Mascherano going to West Ham in 2006 was out of the blue so you never know what’s going to happen. Sometimes you’re just trying to get on top of everything. It doesn’t mean we’re not on top of the story. A manager might have just decided he needs a player last minute and nobody has heard about it, that’s what makes it great and unpredictable.
You do sometimes get into work and think ‘damn, we missed out on that’ but everyone does. Things happen that nobody expects. Never do you work at Sky Sports and it is uneventful, even if it’s a quiet day there’ll be something going on. Deadline day is special, there is always something happening every 30 seconds and that’s what makes it thrilling and brilliant.